Shelby Township, UticaJune 6, 2014
Utica Eisenhower downs Grand Blanc to win regional title
By Thomas Franz
C & G Sports Writer
Two goals in the game's first four minutes sparked Utica Eisenhower to a 4-1 victory against Grand Blanc in a MHSAA Division 1 regional final on Friday night at Rochester High.
Isabella Palazzolo opened the scoring for Eisenhower 1:12 into the game off of an assist from Paige Duda. Two and a half minutes later, Jillian Doss headed in a free kick from Samantha Dunn.
“We tried to stay attacking. We did not try to play a defensive game," Eisenhower coach Mehrdad Nekoogar said. “We were very fortunate today that we scored an early goal, and we were able to manage to hold on to that goal with the caliber of player that they had in the front.”
That player Nekoogar referred to was Grand Blanc junior Annie Walker, who scored with 24:03 left in the first half to cut the Eagles' lead to one.
Similar to Eisenhower's regional semifinal victory, the Eagles took control in the second half.
Another quick goal, this time from Duda less than four minutes after halftime, gave Eisenhower momentum for the rest of the game.
"Once we scored the third goal, we made a couple of more adjustments and after that, we knew that if they push up they would not be able to stay with our attackers," Nekoogar said.
Duda tallied her second goal of the night with 24:15 left to complete Eisenhower's scoring and give the Eagles a 4-1 lead.
Grand Blanc closes its season at 17-3-4. Eisenhower will advance to play the winner of Utica Ford and Grosse Pointe South in a state semifinal on at 6:30 p.m. on June 11 at West Bloomfield High School.
Eisenhower defeated Ford and South in both contests against each team in the regular season, but Nekoogar knows that it will be a dangerous contest for his team.
Every time you beat a team twice, they’re going to be ready the third time for you, and that’s going to be a very dangerous game," Nekoogar said. "I just have to hope that the girls are focused and they don’t take anything for granted.”